St. Benedict, a 5th Century monk who wrote, The Rule of St. Benedict to guide his fellow monks in monastic living, entreated humankind to ‘listen with the ears of your heart’. To let go of the mind’s desire to know the meaning of the words through thought and sink deeply into what comes when we soften our hearts and listen with all its desire to know the soul.
Yesterday, my eldest daughter shared her sadness over the responses she had read in social media feeds to the verdict of a case involving a young man, who in the darkness of a psychotic break, went to a house party and killed five fellow-university students, all of whom were celebrating the end of a year of studies.
It is a tragedy beyond the scope of our thinking minds capacity to understand how this could have happened, or why.
We must listen with the ears of our hearts.
To the sorrow of the families who have lost their beloved children.
To the family of the young man who committed this act of violence.
To the young man who is now under psychiatric supervision and must live with the consciousness of his act for the rest of his life.
We must listen with the ears of our hearts. Those ears do not decry the failure of justice, ignoring the power of the mind to break down and drag a young man into the darkness where he hears only its roar driving him to strike out against the world around him. In the devastation left behind, those ears seek to understand, to know this act of violence was not of conscious mind. They seek to find ways to be present for those who are filled with the pain and loss of what happened so that they can help ease their burden.
Those ears do not seek vengeance. They do not judge. They do not condemn. They seek only to understand the soul’s calling out for humanity to stop the violence. Stop the killing. Stop the wars and drugs and rapes and horrors we commit against each other every day and to be present to one another. To love one another. To cherish one another. To be with one another in peace.
My mind cannot begin to imagine the pain and sorrow and anger and grief of those involved.
What my mind can imagine is what I need to do to be present in our world so that my presence creates a place where healing and peace can take hold.
Adding my anger, condemnation, judgement does not ease their burden. It does not pave the way to peace.
Adding my compassion, my heartfelt, soul-driven desire to be of service, to be present from a deeply soul-driven place of listening with the ears of my heart calls for me to soften my heart and let go of judgement. It calls for me to lower my voice filled with condemnation and be present to the pain and suffering. To stand where I am in peace and know it is what I can do in this moment.
As a friend said over tea on Sunday, she does not want to add more violent discourse to society’s already violent discourse about so many things — politics, our leaders, the economy, what is happening in our world. She only wants to add peace. Compassion. Caring. Love.
And if she cannot add those, then she will stay silent. She will not join in the discourse.
Sometimes, it is all we can do, what we must do to listen with the ears of our hearts.
Stay silent and hold peace in our minds.
In that way, peace has a chance to take hold.